Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scary Stories

The book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a phenomenon in Mrs. Olsen's fourth grade class. The Scholastic book order form that came out in October prominently featured the book on the front cover. The black binding surrounding the drawing of a creepy tree-face smoking a pipe eerily drew us students in, prompting nearly every kid in the class to order the book. We feasted on the short stories meant to get us amped up for Halloween, sharing our favorites with those who were not that far into the book. In honor of the most frightening kids book I ever read, here are Rachel and my favorite Scary Klug Crew Stories just in time for Halloween.

Micah and Malorie Meet a Ghost

We parents planned the excursion rigorously, passing up valuable sleep and waking up early to get ready. We woke the kids up on schedule to feed them, but they were still sleepy, throwing the first wrench into the plans. After basically force-feeding the babies to make sure they would be happy, I took Micah to change him into the fancy outfit laid out for the trip. Malorie, in an act of silent protest against the force feeding, decided she would not burp, forcing Rachel to stay and work with her. As time ticked down to under ten minutes until the family had planned to leave, Micah began to squirm and cry on the changing table. Sensing something was wrong, I picked him up and held him to my shoulder just in time to be showered with a voluminous eruption of vomit. Micah was soaked but feeling better; I was soaked but feeling worse. I had to pass Micah off to his mother to get hosed off and dressed, as I went and re-showered to remove the milk vomit from my hair, ear, back and chest.

After rapidly dressing Micah and changing Malorie's diaper, there was no more time to dress Mal, so she went on the trip in her pajamas. I took the fastest shower of my life, probably missing up to 40% of the vomit, but I at least had the illusion of feeling cleaner. I quickly threw on some nice clothes and grabbed a piece of bread and water for breakfast to eat in the car, forsaking the time it would take to toast the bread. Rachel did a great job of getting the properly dressed Micah and the unburped, pajama wearing Malorie into their car-seats, but she forgot to grab the bag of items meant to take with us to donate to the local food pantry.

Once we all arrived at our destination, the babies who had made so much trouble all morning made like saints. They slept through their entire first church service at Advent Lutheran, slumbering especially soundly during the songs. Micah and Malorie made their first trip to the communion table as well, receiving their first ever blessing from their Pastor - thereby meeting for the first time The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

Frightening Feedings

It was a dark and stormy afternoon at the Klug house. Inside, it was eerily quiet. As I sat down to a delicious lunch (Hot Pocket), I suddenly heard a scream coming from the baby’s room. When I walked in I found that Malorie was HUNGRY! She was crying her usual “waaa! waaa! waaa! Come and get me and feed me” cry, so I picked her up and began to warm her a bottle. I changed her diaper and we calmly sat down to enjoy some Oprah and milk and a pepperoni pizza Hot Pocket when... "ahhhhhhhhhhhhh..." another scream from the baby’s room. My frustration kicked in... Micah was HUNGRY too!!!

Now, usually I do my best to space the kids feeding schedules out by at least 45 minutes during the day. After much trial and error I have found that this best allows me to peacefully feed one baby without having one hungry baby just waiting. However, inevitably, at some point during the day, they will catch up with each other. (I can only control so much). Normally, if one wakes up early I try to just pacify that baby as I finish feeding the other one. This juggling act can get kind of hairy, especially when I have to start holding the “passie” in with my foot.

With this particular feeding, though, Micah would not take his “passie.” He would not stall. He was so hungry there was nothing I could do but feed him. But how? I only have two hands and I was already feeding Mal. So, what happened next was probably the spookiest thing ever, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do... I attempted to do a breast feeding/bottle feeding simultaneously. Things got a little scarier when burping time came along. I would lay one down in a Boppy while burping the other, then switch. At one point, I did try to do them both on my shoulder at the same time, but I had no luck with that.

When things were all said and done, all three of us were wiped out. I laid them side by side in Boppy pillows and we all caught our breath. I would never wish that situation upon anyone, nor would I have wanted anyone to witness what it looked like. It was definitely... VERY SCARY! After a brief recovery period, I finally settled in for some Oprah and a now cold, stale pocket. Yum.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bullets and Baby Faces

There are certain things in life that don't go together: Cats and Dogs, Pickles and Peanut Butter, Tents and Sub-Zero Temperatures, Cubs and World Series (can't believe I said that). Bullets and Baby Faces probably, under almost anyone's definition of good taste, would not go together. However, I think I can make it work. So, I will dispatch all the fancy writing and hit the highlights in bullet point then entertain you with my babies making faces. For the record, I know that 85% of the blog readers will now scroll past all my words to the faces. Thanks for reading if you did.
  • Nicole's visit was great but as with most trips, too short. You're welcome to come back anytime... but I want Paul and Jackson to come next time. I need some man-bonding time.

  • The babies had their two month visit. Malorie has climbed to the 25th percentile in weight, tipping the scales at 8lbs 15 oz. Micah made her look like a feather as he busted through the ten pound threshold. He is now 10 lbs 6 oz. Micah and Mal want everyone to know that getting vaccines is not fun.

  • I have averaged about four hours of sleep all week as I have stayed up during the nights cramming for my MBA class assignments.

  • Rachel has been a champion throughout her first week alone with the kids while I am at work. On Tuesday night, I pulled into the driveway and saw her, the kids and the dog taking a stroll around the block. Today she and the twins visited Jodi and Jacob.

  • Micah and I got dressed up for the Bears game last Sunday night against the Falcons, but the Bears lost. Micah cried, but I won't hold it against him, I cried when the Bears lost until I was about 8 years old.

  • Mal Pal saw a lactation specialist. The lady said Malorie doesn't open wide enough to latch well. Then she made Malorie eat from a tube while shoving her finger into the back of Malorie's mouth. Malorie showed her dissent by burping milk up onto my flight suit.

  • The specialist told Rachel that her lack of milk was from being too stressed out, which stressed out Rachel more. Ah, the joys of mother/daughter bonding.

Now, instead of reading my useless blather, look at my beautiful babies as they make faces for you. I told you Bullets and Baby Faces could go together. Now I've just got to work on the Cubs and World Series.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Klug Family Tree

Rachel and I may believe that we started "The Klug Crew" when she threatened to withhold children's naming rights from me if I did not start blogging about her pregnancy. However, truth be told, the Klug Crew began long before our kids or the invent of fancy-schmancy Internet weblogs. Rachel and I got a reminder just how far our family tree stretches downward when my parents, sister Maggie and my grandfather came for a visit last week.

Mal Pal and Micah enjoyed meeting their grandparents. At the end of the visit we were all sad to see my mom leave to go home. She was a tremendous help for the month she was here, and now we have one more visitor (Nicole) before the training wheels come off and Rachel and I try this parenthood thing on our own. Yikes!

Malorie got snuggly with Maggie, but Micah was not so kind. Hands down the funniest moment of the visit was when Micah made Maggie earn the title of Auntie Burp Rag. Aunt Maggie held onto Micah after he spit up milk all over her, but as she did so she turned beet red and started exclaiming, "I'm not freakin' out! I'm not freakin' out!" Luckily grandma was sitting nearby to grab the baby as Maggie ran to the bathroom.

Here is Mal Pal being thoroughly unimpressed with Great Grandpa's story about the Korean War. Apparently she is not a history buff.

Micah, on the other hand, seems very interested in the story Great Grandpa is telling. Either that, or he is looking up his nose.

Finally, anyone who knows me well knows I could not resist a shot at Rachel's Cardinals. One year ago at this time I was downtrodden due to the Cubs being swept in the first round of the MLB playoffs. Tables turned this year as the Cards were eliminated in three games by the Dodgers. Here is Micah getting upset after seeing Chris Carpenter give up a run in game one. It happened to coincide with Micah being hungry and tired, but I'm pretty sure he was crying because he was wearing that Cardinals onesie.

Do You Believe In Magic?

I grew up in a house with six kids: three boys and three girls. Despite all the fun times I had with my sisters, there was always a clear delineation as to what belonged to girls and what belonged to boys. Jelly shoes, New Kids on the Block sweaters and Barbie dolls - girls. Baseball cards, toy cars and boogers stuck to walls - boys. Hair brushes always have and always will fall into the girl category. Brushes were both unappreciated and unused by the boys in my house. In fact, the only reason I think I ever touched a brush was to use one as a weapon.

This marked line of boy versus girl items has followed me to my new home in Florida, where there is now a controversy brewing. Rachel wants to brush Micah's hair after his baths, despite my strong objections. I've tried using reason. "Micah doesn't even have any hair," I protested, to no avail. When Rachel picks up the brush anyway, I've tried to sway her using facts. "The only boys who use hair brushes are magicians and John Stamos," I cry when Rachel takes the first swipe at Micah's peach fuzz. I've tried faking tears and would have attempted to use the brush as a weapon against Rachel, but she's already holding it. Plus Florida has strong laws against spousal abuse. In spite of all my pleas, my son always leaves the tub straight haired and emasculated.

However, Rachel got her comeuppance as Micah made my words prophetic the other night. Micah had just finished eating, I mean drinking, and so Rachel began to burp him. She held him upright, covered her lap with a burp cloth and began patting his back. Then the magic show began as Micah the Magnificent erupted with a roar of a wet belch. Rachel looked down onto the cloth expecting to see burped-up milk, but there was none. "Wow," she said as she examined the rag, "I can't believe he had that big of a burp and nothing came back up with it." However, once she moved the clean rag, the trick was revealed. Micah had somehow burped over, around or through the burp cloth and right onto Rachel's leg that had been fully covered by the cloth. "How in the world..." Rachel began, but I cut her off. "That's what you get for brushing his hair!" I bellowed belligerently. My bewildered wife caught on as I proclaimed, "Now you've turned our son into David Copperfield!"

I guess there are worse things than brushing a boys hair with a brush instead of a comb. But, then again, there are worse things than getting burped up milk all over one's pants. I hate to say it, but Rachel, you got what you deserved. If there is one thing I appreciate, it's justice. Now I guess I had better learn to also learn to like magic and little boys using girlie hair brushes.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

I know, I know, it has been a very long time since I wrote to update on the day to day events that make the Klug Crew what it is. Since I will have to practically write a novel to catch everyone up on what's been going down with my favorite kids, I figured I'd use to format of one of my favorite kids book series. So, from this point on, you are free to choose your own adventure.

CHAPTER ONE: Our tale begins with Rachel, the lovely matron of the Klug household. Rachel celebrated her 29th birthday last weekend. Unfortunately for her, the birthday began with her crying. The twins had kept her up most of the night, she had a painful clogged milk duct, and her husband was leaving for Gainesville to attend his business school classes for the weekend. If you think Rachel's birthday was brightened by a baby's smile, turn to chapter three. If you predict Rachel's birthday was livened up by a near death experience, turn to chapter five. And if you envision Rachel muddling through the weekend without her husband and then was so sleep deprived that she hallucinated, flip to chapter six.

CHAPTER TWO: Malorie's tiny nostrils have been a source of worry for us from the get go. First, they were too small to get the feeding tube down in the NICU. Then, since we have gotten her home, she has had the snorking problem where it sounds like she struggles to breathe. However, recently Rachel has been using the aspirator to pull some boogers the size of earthworms out of the tiny holes. The green, slimy slugs have relieved a great amount of pressure from Mal's nose, and have created a great bit of entertainment for Rachel and me. If you agree laughing at boogers is silly and that we need more entertainment, see chapter seven. If you believe boogers are the craziest thing we've seen this week, see chapter six. And if you wonder what Micah does instead of hording monstrous snots in his nasal cavities, see chapter three.

CHAPTER THREE: Rachel's days have a brand new routine that has the house abuzz. When Micah wakes to feed, Rachel will hold him in one arm and tickle him with the other. Micah has discovered his smile, which absolutely lights up the house like birthday candles. If you want to know what Malorie does to compensate for her brother's smile, see chapter two. For Tyson's reaction to baby smiles, burps and farts, see chapter four. And if you surmise Micah should hit the town with his new found glee, see Chapter seven.

CHAPTER FOUR: For the first few weeks Tyson avoided the burping, farting, crying machines with all his might. However, over the past few days he has started sniffing the twins out. We believe this curious phase is en route to Tyson's eventual acquiescence to being Micah and Malorie's best bud. It's only a matter of time. Until then, we'll still arrange for him to get out of the house for play dates with his dog pals Onyx, Lucci and Nani. To see how the babies get some time away from Tyson, see Chapter seven. If you think Tyson should stay home more in case someone coughs up some food on the floor, see chapter six. And, if you wonder whether Tyson makes Micah smile, see chapter three.
CHAPTER FIVE: The night of her birthday, in between the five o'clock and eight o'clock feedings, Rachel and her two buddies Kat and Sheryl tried to sneak in a few Yum Yum and Crunch Crunch rolls from a local sushi joint that needs some help giving their fare some creative names. While apparently trying to eat fast fast, Sheryl choked on a Yum... or maybe it was a Crunch. Anyway, our website-designer/photographer/life-saver friend Kat saved the day by performing the Heimlich Maneuver, thereby shooting the rice and seafood from Sheryl's throat and right onto Tyson's floor. If you think Tyson sniffs only half chewed seafood, see chapter four. If you think the house is too dangerous, and so Rachel should get out more, see chapter seven. And if you guess a gasping girlfriend was the worst part of Rachel's birthday, return to chapter one.

CHAPTER SIX: The other night, I woke to the alarm to feed the kids. I began getting up, and then said over my shoulder, "Rach, time to get up." Without moving, Rachel exclaimed, "Mal is chuggin' this!" I spun around quickly, not anticipating babies to be feeding yet, and my instincts were correct. Rachel was sound asleep and Malorie was still snug in her bassinet. "Rach," I said, "Mal is still asleep in her bed." "Oh," said my dejected wife after her dreams were ruined. If you think Rachel was tired from hitting the town with the babies, see chapter seven. If you want Rachel to get more relaxing time with her friends, see chapter five. And if you are interested in what Malorie actually does, see chapter two.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Micah and Malorie have been putting on their boogie shoes (ok, only Micah wears shoes) and hitting the town with their parents this week. Early in the week they returned to Walmart. On Wednesday, their thirst for adventure not yet quenched, the twins attended a Navy ceremony called a Hail and Farewell at River City Brewhouse. Then, to complete their trio of trips, they crashed a house party at our friends the Loucks' house on Saturday night. Rachel and I are starting to feel more and more comfortable taking the twins out; I guess you could say we are finally able to start choosing our own adventures.

Woof, all the blogging this weekend has made me tired. I choose for this adventure to end.

The End

Shaving The Beard

I've been meaning to put a wrap on Beard for Babies for a while now, but I just hadn't taken the time to learn how to convert video from our new video camera to the computer. You see, months ago I promised to show Micah's first encounter with my beard as gratitude for your support for Beards for Babies. That was a promise my mother would simply not let me forget. She has reminded me at least four million times since then that she wanted to see the video, so finally I got the time to convert it. Here, as restitution, is the video of Micah and his daddy's disgusting, scratchy beard, on the first morning home from the NICU.

Despite Micah's complete indifference for my pathetic facial hair, Beards for Babies was a rousing success. In the six weeks since we started the charity, you all provided nearly one-thousand dollars for the Wolfson's Children's Hospital NICU. The monetary amount is not the only accomplishment for the short lived donation campaign. I can not express the pressure and anxiety that was relieved by just having something to do while my kids were in the hospital. The time Rachel and I used organizing and starting Beards for Babies would have otherwise been spent worrying, wishing, or waiting. Finally, I plan on showing Micah and Malorie the impact they had before they even left the hospital once they are old enough to understand. To be able to raise the money and help others the way they did makes me proud of my babies for more than the fact that they are here. I am proud of their civic achievements, a sentiment I hope to carry forward as we teach our children how to be good stewards of their world.

Thank you to everyone who donated money, prayers, or grew an ill-fated Mal-stache. Also, I'd be completely remiss if I did not thank Nicole White and her talented team of mommy bloggers who created this hilarious picture of me, gave the charity its catchy name, and then carried it to a level well beyond the reach of our family and friends. Nic, you are an amazing woman and we are lucky to have you.

Finally, for those Johnny-Come-Lately's just stumbling onto this site, sorry you missed the chance to be a part of Beards for Babies and Mal-staches. However, if you are still in the philanthropic mood, I'd like to invite you to check out Friends of Maddie, a fantastic charity supporting a noble cause. It was started by a friend of a friend that helps NICU parents find their way during a terribly confusing, anxious and often times frightening period of their lives. Give generously, the entire Klug Crew thanks you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Putting the CAH in Micah - And Then Taking It Out

Before I start this story, I want to assure you there is nothing wrong with our child. Not to spoil the ending, but I have never been a fan of hypochondriac parents. You know the type - every time their kid sneezes they have caught the plague, every scraped knee is a trip to the emergency room and every time they cry it is reason to raise the national terror level to red. Anyway, Micah is fine. However, if I am to chronicle the parental experience, I had better discuss the rough times alongside of the good ones. OK, story will commence now.

Two weeks ago, Rachel and my mother were feeding the babies when the phone rang. They let it go to the machine. The message began, "Mr. and Mrs. Klug, this is Dr. Black, Micah's pediatrician." She sounded fine, but then things got worse. "Your son's newborn screening test results came back, and Micah has tested positive for a serious blood disorder. He may be in danger, and we need to see him immediately..." The message continued, but Rachel didn't hear the rest. She was too busy frantically scrambling to get to the phone.

After speaking with the pediatrician, she learned Micah had tested positive for an exceedingly rare genetic blood disorder named Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, or CAH. CAH, in its most severe form, prevents the body from absorbing salts and enzymes. That dehydrates the newborn, puts the body into shock, and causes death. While the enzyme absorption can be treated by medications, there are several other life altering side effects of CAH that can not be treated, such as premature puberty, organ disorders and infertility. The more Rachel researched this disease, the more panicked we became.

Rachel called me home from work and we gathered Micah into the car seat, destined for testing at Nemours Childrens Hospital. We arrived there and were shuttled to the ninth floor for blood draws. Poor Micah, just healed from all the holes poked in his skin in the NICU, had to have enough blood drawn for three tests. On the wall of the room were pictures of other kids who had been there for testing, including one beautiful picture of our friend Trisha and her daughter Ava. Although that made us smile, Rachel and I both welled with tears as Micah's vein was sucked dry.

Of the three tests, two results were available the same day. We learned that Micah's blood sodium and potassium levels were within the normal range, telling us that he was in no immediate risk of shock. The third test was a retest of the CAH screening. Those results were not available for over a week.

Later that night, a specialist from the lab at Nemours called us. She had been contacted by Dr. Black to explain CAH further. The specialist, Liz, explained to us that Micah may have had a false positive result. She thought this because of Micah's normal tests earlier that day, and because Micah was tested as a premie. Apparently there is a much higher rate of false results with premies, who may not have developed all the necessary components of their blood at the time of the screening tests. Despite her anticipation of a clean slate, she told us to wait for the final result before ruling out CAH.

The next week and a half was spent waiting with nervous anticipation for the final test result. Every time the phone rang, Rachel sprinted for the phone as if she were running a race against Usain Bolt. The waiting wore on both of us, as did keeping the test results from our family and friends. But we prayed Liz was right and the test was wrong, and tried hard not to get our hopes up too much. If Micah had CAH, we would deal with it appropriately, and still make sure he and his sister had a great life. Finally, nine days after the blood draw, we got the final confirmation - Micah is negative for CAH. That night, Rachel and I slept well for the first time since the initial call. It may have been the relief from the final results, but then again it may have been the glasses of wine we had to celebrate the fact that the only CAH in Micah's life was the last three letters of his name.
FYI - This is the first in what I hope will be a flurry of updates this weekend, as I plan on knocking out several things I've planned on writing about for some time.